Oilspill Update : City refuses to pay for Rena campaign

From the Bay of Plenty Times

The city council has refused to give the region’s tourism agency the $600,000 it wants for an advertising campaign to improve Tauranga’s battered image after the Rena disaster. WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD HAPPEN? twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature

The shipping company that chartered the vessel could now be the last hope to bankroll the campaign.

Tourism Bay of Plenty is trying to raise $600,000 to run the campaign to counter the damage caused by the disaster.

Chairman Paul Bowker found a lot of sympathy but no takers at yesterday’s council meeting.

Mayor Stuart Crosby offered a ray of hope that some of the $1 million donated by the charterer of the Rena, the Mediterranean Shipping Company, could be used to help fund the campaign.

The shipping company has asked the mayors and chief executives of the Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District councils to suggest ways to distribute the $1 million based on four categories: Business losses with an emphasis on tourism, cleaning up the coastline, wildlife care and assistance for iwi.

Mr Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times there was a strong possibility some of the money could go to Tourism BOP’s recovery campaign.

The Western Bay council has already declined making a contribution on the basis that its priority was the Psa outbreak, and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has already made a $25,000 contribution to cover costs associated with organising the campaign.

Tourism BOP has so far spent or allocated $266,000 on the campaign, including the development of the concept, without securing the $600,000 needed to make it happen.

Cr Catherine Stewart led the move to decline the request for funding, saying that the weather and the economy were other influences affecting tourism. Some businesses’ revenues were up because of the influx of people into the Bay to deal with the disaster.

She said ratepayers were already being squeezed and she wondered if Tourism BOP was aware of the fiscal constraints and major financial challenges facing the council.

Tourism BOP’s recovery campaign manager Linda Macpherson said the potential losses from the Rena were $1.2 million a day. Fifty-five per cent of operators were negatively affected by the disaster, 70 per cent reported that business was down over the Christmas-New Year period and that they expected the Rena to continue to hit their businesses for the next 18 months.

Without mentioning the names of businesses, she said a marine operator had closed and another had lost $50,000, two accommodation providers were down $148,000 and $9000 respectively, a grocery retailer had lost $109,000 and a sports event $15,000.

Ms Macpherson said the campaign aimed to reverse the risk of lasting damage to the Bay’s reputation as a visitor destination by arresting negative perceptions and rebuilding the Bay brand. The campaign would not be launched until they knew the Bay would not be subjected to any more oil spills or outbreaks of containers.

Mr Bowker said Tourism BOP had a mandate to boost tourism and was left in a difficult situation because, without resources, there was nothing it could do.

“The reason we are standing here is because we have exhausted our [funding] avenues … is doing nothing the right option,” he said.

Mr Crosby added a positive note to Cr Stewart’s resolution by adding that the council would continue to work with Tourism BOP to assist in seeking funds. “We still have a role to play.”

Tourism BOP, a council-controlled organisation, receives $775,000 a year from the city council and $169,000 from the district council, totalling $944,000.

Comments : 

Oh poor old Tourism Bay of Plenty … after receiving $1million bucks from the ratepayers AND STILL they seek to “benefit” from a disaster/tragedy at the expense of others?? Why don’t they use some of their “funds” they have managed to acquire from the “monopolisation” of the current cruise ship season? Now their hopes are with first “bludging” more from the rate payers who have funded them anyway with tax payer money – getting a “NO”, and now they hope to get another ‘handout’ from the Shipping company. What did they do with all the cash from the $1million? There are more community organisations in need of this funding than ‘greedy’ bearaucrats with an agenda that were adversely affected by the Rena. Did Graeme Marshall (former Chairman of TBOP – YOU KNOW – the guy with more heads than he can put hats on) or the incoming chairman of TBOP – Bowker, get their hands dirty to help clean up the oil on the beaches? DON’T THINK SO! No, They’re too busy sitting at board tables figuring out how to spend tax payers money without doing anything for it!


Rachel Carson , Rotorua :
You know, I have often wondered why Tauranga has significantly lagged behind the rest of the region as an international tourist destination. Part of the reason was probably that its brand managers and marketers simply weren’t far sighted enough a few years back and Rotorua got to enjoy much of the passenger influx of cruise ships for quite a long time before the city began to peg back what it had lost through its RTO-of-the-time’s inertia. Funding is absolutely crucial – and in this instance, damage control is even moreso. As an RTO , they are best suited towards that end and the council is literally shooting itself in the foot by not taking this on board. No pun intended. The perspective that potential visitors have is the key and whether their perspectives are correct or not, at the moment, they are more negative than positive. Tauranga may depend on the port as a vital player – but there are people whose livelihoods are very much at stake and tourism is a key player in the region; these people need to be looked after by the council that represents them. One million dollars is chump change… but the money that it could potentially bring into the economy is significant enough to warrant the expenditure. And finally, it is obvious TrueBlue has no concept of the role an RTO is supposed to play on a national and international level. It is not designed for regional roles and too many ratepayers don’t seem to understand what it actually does.


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